A Comparison of Macbeth and Hamlet

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A Comparison of Macbeth and Hamlet MACBETH stands in contrast throughout with Hamlet; in the manner of

opening more especially. In the latter, there is a gradual ascent from

the simplest forms of conversation to the language of impassioned

intellect,—yet the intellect still remaining the seat of passion: in

the former, the invocation is at once made to the imagination and the

emotions connected therewith. Hence the movement throughout is the

most rapid of all Shakspeare's plays; and hence also, with the

exception of the disgusting passage of the Porter (Act ii. sc. 3),

which I dare pledge myself to demonstrate to be an interpolation of

the actors, there is not, to the best of my remembrance, a single pun

or play on words in the whole drama. I have previously given an answer

to the thousand times repeated charge against Shakspeare upon the

subject of his punning, and I here merely mention the fact of the

absence of any puns in Macbeth, as justifying a candid doubt at least,

whether even in these figures of speech and fanciful modifications of

language, Shakspeare may not have followed rules and principles that

merit and would stand the test of philosophic examination. And hence,

also, there is an entire absence of comedy, nay, even of irony and

philosophic contemplation in Macbeth,—the play being wholly and purely

tragic. For the same cause, there are no reasonings of equivocal

morality, which would have required a more...

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...to the music of noblest thought in har-monious sounds. Happy he, who

not only in the public theatre, but in the labours of a profession,

and round the light of his own hearth, still carries a heart so


Alas for Macbeth! now all is inward with him; he has no more

prudential prospective reasonings. His wife, the only being who could

have had any seat in his affections, dies; he puts on despondency, the

final heart-armour of the wretched, and would fain think every thing

shadowy and unsubstantial, as indeed all things are to those who

cannot regard them as symbols of goodness:—

Out out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more; it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

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